In today’s gospel, John is imprisoned and sends his disciples to Jesus, asking if he is indeed the Christ. The church fathers tell us that this is not because John lacks faith, but he is asking the question to teach his disciples. Jesus answers with a scripture from Isaiah that would have been known as a prophecy of the works of the Messiah. This would’ve given John’s disciples confirmation that it was time to leave John in prison and follow Jesus.
Jesus then questions the disciples of John as to who John is to dispel any doubts about their leader in prison. Jesus again quotes Isaiah, confirming John as the prophet to come before the Messiah. But then Jesus does something unexpected. He praises John as the greatest to be born. Yet, to those who have the kingdom of heaven, he is the least. The promise to anyone who follows Jesus is a greatness that none of us can imagine. As we continue our journey through Advent, we remember that the heavenly reality should always be our focus.